New Zealand’s donation will support the timely vaccination of Tonga’s eligible population, in particular its 12-17 age group and pregnant women.
The first Pfizer consignment arrived on 20 October 2021 at Fua’amotu International Airport and was received by Prime Minister Hon Dr Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, Minister for Health Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu, New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Tiffany Babington, MOH CEO Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola and other MOH officials.
In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, New Zealand is also providing vaccine consumables, cold chain training, vaccinator workforce training for 63 health workers, technology to support vaccination, support for adverse events, logistics support and communication materials for the vaccine rollout.
“The partnership between Tonga and New Zealand continues to support vaccination efforts and other essential public health measures. It is the result of hard work, good will and testament to our close relationship not only as a neighbouring country but a friend in development. Our Government thank you [Your Excellency, Tiffany Babington] and the people of New Zealand” Prime Minister Hon Dr Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa said.
Minister for Health Hon Dr ‘Amelia Tu’ipulotu acknowledged “the support from the Government of New Zealand in obtaining more safe and efficient vaccines to protect the people of Tonga”. She further urged people to come forward and get vaccinated to protect Tonga and young children from birth to 11-years-old because there is no vaccine for them.
“MOH intends to roll out the Pfizer vaccine to high schools on Tongatapu and outer islands starting the week of 18 October 2021”, said MOH CEO, Dr ‘Akau’ola. He added that MOH aims to vaccinate 70 percent of the population by December 2021 to be able to repatriate people from high risk countries.
New Zealand High Commissioner Tiffany Babington thanked Government of Tonga and MOH for their continued public health leadership including encouraging people to get vaccinated. “The Government of New Zealand is pleased to be providing 31,600 Pzifer doses to help increase Tonga’s vaccination rates and decrease the impacts of COVID-19 on Tonga”.
The donation of Pfizer vaccines is an addition to the previously announced New Zealand donation of 708,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Covax Facility which is supporting vaccine programmes in developing countries, including Tonga.
Photo NZ High Commission